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Serbian Competition Commission Intensifies Enforcement

September 2015 - EU & Competition. Legal Developments by Karanovic & Nikolic.

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The Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition did not seem to relax much during the summer months, actually intensifying efforts to enforce competition law by launching several investigations.

In July, the Commission launched an investigation into a possible restrictive agreement concluded between the domestic edible oil producers Victoria Oil and Vital. According to the Commission’s statement, these companies appear to have entered into a co-branding and joint production arrangement regarding Vital’s sunflower oil. However, the parties are direct competitors and did not file the potentially restrictive agreement for individual exemption from prohibition. The Commission seems to be particularly concerned by the prohibited information exchange, as well as by a possible de facto merger implemented between the parties. The investigation is currently ongoing.

Furthermore, the Commission initiated an investigation into a possible merger involving an entity from the Ferrero Group. The proceedings concern the acquisition of certain farmland and associated facilities, owned by a local agricultural company undergoing restructuring. The Commission started an official investigation into whether or not a merger has been implemented without prior competition clearance, since the filing thresholds appear to have been met in the case at hand.

The Commission had also recently initiated investigations related to the e-cigarette and pharma markets, which triggered the first ever dawn raids in Serbia. It is obvious that the Commission is significantly bolstering its case record and that active enforcement is high on the authority’s to-do list. If the current enforcement trends continue, the heated summer is likely to be followed by a just as hot autumn.  

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